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Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passes into law

Home Insights Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passes into law

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Contributed by: Allison Arthur-Young and David Alley

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Published on: April 07, 2017

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Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passes into law

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (Bill) has passed into law with the support of the Māori Party. In exchange for its support, the Māori Party secured two last minute concessions strengthening provisions providing for Māori involvement in decision-making and allowing councils to ban GM crops in their region without being over-ruled by the Minister through their regulation-making powers. The version of the Bill that was passed can be found here. The bulk of the Bill remains mostly unchanged from the original version.

Summary of key amendments to the RMA

  • Notification of resource consents – There are now additional express restrictions on notification:
    • Public notification is precluded (subject to special circumstances) for subdivision and residential activities (if they are restricted discretionary or discretionary) and boundary activities (if they are restricted discretionary, discretionary or non-complying).
    • Limited notification is precluded for controlled land use activities (but not subdivision or regional activities).
  • Appeal rights on resource consents – No rights of appeal in relation to boundary activities, subdivision, or residential activity, unless the activities are non-complying.
  • Permitted activities – Boundary activities approved by neighbours on infringed boundaries, and activities involving “marginal or temporary non-compliances” are deemed permitted activities.
  • Streamlined and collaborative planning processes – There are now additional options to prepare and change plans.
  • Development capacity – Councils have a new function to ensure there is sufficient development capacity for business and residential land, with further amendments to align relevant definitions with the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016.
  • Limited notification of plan changes (and now also plan variations) – Can now occur provided all directly affected persons can be identified.
  • Regulation-making powers – Additional regulation-making powers now apply but require the opportunity for public comment and the Minister to have particular regard to the report on public comments.
  • Preparing NPS and NES (together known as “national directions”) – NPS/NES can be region/district specific, but consultation must be nationwide.
  • National Planning Standards (previously known as National Planning Templates) – Have been introduced with public submissions now required. However, there is no right for submitters to be heard or a requirement to consult with stakeholders on technical provisions.


Next steps

The passage of this legislation is the latest in a suite of reforms of the RMA, often designed to tackle particular regional issues or to fix what is often just symptomatic of under resourced councils. In our view, the result is an unwieldy and inelegant piece of legislation that has moved far beyond its original intent.

A major rethink is required – whether that means binning the RMA and starting fresh, or taking a hard and principled look at the RMA and enacting further reforms, will be a matter for Parliament to consider following the election. 


This publication is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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